Welcome, students and teachers!

February 7, 2018

University of Kansas Jayhawk mascot at one of the school's sports fields. KU photo

University of Kansas Jayhawk mascot at one of the school’s sports fields. KU photo

Welcome students and teachers, today from the Port Washington-Saukville Scholl District on Long Island, New York (Mrs. Reetz’s class), from the University of Kansas on Blackboard, and from the group (home schoolers?) looking up the Casablanca Conference and Franklin Roosevelt.

“Welcome to Port Washington” sign, Long Island, New York.

This blog started out as an experiment in bringing new materials into a classroom in a new way. It’s encouraging that students and teachers use the blog for learning.

If you don’t mind, would you drop a note in comments about where you’re from, and what you’re looking for — and whether the material here is any help? You can use the comments on the post. It would be useful information to help tailor content, you know?

Same welcome applies to anyone else just passing through — tell us where you’re coming from and why, in comments, please.

Thanks.

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Catching up on January historical events

January 25, 2018

Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea). This tortoise is native to the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles. Wikipedia image.

Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea); tortoises move slowly, but get the job done. This tortoise is native to the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles. Wikipedia image.

January flies by, especially when there is so much other stuff going on — new year to start, tests to prepare for, choirs start up from the holiday break, etc., etc.

There are a few key historical events I like to touch, some that have already passed. I’ll work to catch up. This week is the anniversary of the founding of the first Boy Scout Troop, in England; coming are the birthdays of William Henry Harrison McKinley, our shortest-termed president (31 days, one month) on January 28, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our longest-termed president (12 years and 1 month) on January 29. And more stuff.

Is it even worth posting a flag-flying calendar for January 2018?

Remember the archives here (see “search” features on the right), and especially don’t forget to note in comments when links don’t work. Thank you, Dear Reader.


Thank you, readers! 5 million views

March 5, 2017

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub passed the 5 million viewers milestone between 9:45 and 10:00 p.m. Central time, March 5.

Thank you.

5 million views? Equal to the number of immigrants protected from deportation by President Obama's 2014 executive action, providing an enormous boost to the U.S. economy and reputation. Mother Jones image.

5 million views? Equal to the number of immigrants protected from deportation by President Obama’s 2014 executive action, providing an enormous boost to the U.S. economy and reputation. Mother Jones image.

Save


5 million, counting slowly

March 2, 2017

5 million, American. Image from Instagain, whatever that is.

5 million, American. Image from Instagain, whatever that is.

Is the heyday of the blog over? Or did I just foul it up?

At one time Millard Fillmore’s bathtub got about 2,000 hits per day. In the last 16 months, that’s dwindled to just under 1,000 per day.

Still, at that rate, the Bathtub should overflow with the 5 millionth hit, sometime in the next 5 days. It’s funny, but if I counted spam we’d be over 8 million already. 100 spam comments for every real comment, approximately.

No wonder elections turn out so oddly.

For 5 million sincere hits, I thank you, readers, and thank you especially you faithful readers.

Would you tell your friends to come check it out?

For comparison:


WordPress glitches

November 25, 2015

Apologies, Dear Reader: WordPress is glitching. The usual list of important articles, just below the masthead, has disappeared.  I’ve got no notice on it, and it appears the WordPress “help” button may also be missing from some editing screens.

See the blank line below the masthead? It's supposed to list important articles for first-time visitors, and for me.

Something’s missing. See the blank line below the masthead? It’s supposed to list important articles for first-time visitors, and for me.

Stick with us while we try to track down some solution.

WordPress is an admirable host, and easy to use for blogging. I have no reason to complain often — but I wish I could figure out how to fix this.


Early history of EPA: Pesticides regulation and DDT

June 24, 2015

This is an excerpt from EPA’s official shorthand history, online since the 1990s.  I include this part here, dealing with the EPA’s famous regulation of the pesticide DDT, because I refer to it and link to it in several posts — and because over three different administrations, the URL has changed several times.  I fear it will one day go dark.  Here it is for history’s sake, found on June 24, 2015 at http://www2.epa.gov/aboutepa/guardian-epas-formative-years-1970-1973#pest.

Opening to the entire piece; links to subsections go to EPA’s site:

The Guardian: EPA’s Formative Years, 1970-1973

EPA 202-K-93-002
September 1993
by Dennis C. Williams

Table of Contents

The section on DDT hearings and regulation:

Pesticides and Public Health

Unlike the air controversy, which erupted after the agency’s establishment, EPA’s creation coincided with the culmination of the public debate over DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane). A chlorinated hydrocarbon, DDT proved to be a highly effective, but extremely persistent organic pesticide. Since the 1940s, farmers, foresters, and public health officials sprayed it across the country to control pests such as Mexican boll weevils, gypsy moths, and pesky suburban mosquitoes. Widespread public opposition to DDT began with the publication of Rachel Carson’s influential Silent Spring. Reporting the effects of DDT on wildlife, Carson demonstrated that DDT not only infiltrated all areas of the ecological system, but was exponentially concentrated as it moved to higher levels in the food web. Through Carson, many citizens learned that humans faced DDT-induced risks. By 1968 several states had banned DDT use. The Environmental Defense Fund, which began as a group of concerned scientists, spearheaded a campaign to force federal suspension of DDT registration–banning its use in the United States. Inheriting Department of Agriculture (USDA) pesticide registration functions, under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) of 1964, EPA was born in the midst of the DDT storm.

In January 1971, a tribunal of the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia ordered Ruckelshaus to begin the process of suspending DDT’s registration, and to consider suspending its registration immediately. At the end of a sixty-day review process, the administrator reported that he had found no good reason to suspend DDT registration immediateIy. It and several other pesticides–including 2, 4, 5-T (Agent Orange), Dieldrin, Aldrin, and Mirex–did not appear to constitute imminent health threats. This action infuriated many environmentalists.

By 1971, the Environmental Defense Fund had mobilized effective public opposition to DDT. The furor created by Ruckelshaus’s refusal to stop DDT use prompted many to look for sinister political motivations. Some suggested that Mississippi Congressman Jamie Whitten had used his position as chairman of the agricultural appropriations subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee to make Ruckelshaus conform to the interests of the agrichemical lobby. While actually, Ruckelshaus took his cautious stance for less menacing reasons.

At its creation, EPA not only inherited the function of pesticide registration from USDA, but also the staff that served that function. The USDA economic entomologists who designed the pesticide registration process in the first place preached the advantages of effective pesticides and minimized discussion of debatable health risks. The same staff that had backed USDA Secretary Clifford Hardin’s earlier claim that DDT was not “an imminent hazard to human health or to fish and wildlife” 8 provided Ruckelshaus with the same counsel.

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring led to banning DDT and other pesticides.

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring led to banning DDT and other pesticides.

Between March 1971 and June 1972, American newspapers reported both sides of the pesticide debate. Some articles recalled the glory days when pesticides saved thousands of lives in World War II; how they had increased agricultural productivity and allowed relatively few farmers to feed the world’s growing population; and how the most besieged insecticides, such as DDT and Mirex, had little human toxicity. Other journalists praised alternative approaches to pest management such as biological controls (predator introduction, sterile males, and pheromone traps), integrated controls (crop rotation and carefully delimited pesticide use), and refinement of other, less persistent chemicals. Some reported the near panic of Northwestern fruit growers facing beeless, and therefore fruitless, seasons. They attributed the lack of pollinating insects to pesticide use.

Throughout the spring of 1972, Ruckelshaus reviewed the evidence EPA had collected during the agency’s hearings on DDT cancellation and the reports prepared by two DDT study groups, the Hilton and Mrak Commissions. Both studies suggested that DDT be phased out due to the chemical’s persistent presence in ecosystems and noted studies suggesting that DDT posed a carcinogenic risk to humans. In June, he followed the route already taken by several states he banned DDT application in the United States. Though unpopular among certain segments of EPA’s constituency, his decision did serve to enhance the activist image he sought to create for the agency, and without prohibitive political cost.

The DDT decision was important to EPA for several reasons. While it did not stop the debate over what constituted appropriate pesticide use, DDT demonstrated the effect public pressure could have on EPA policy decisions. It also made very visible the tightrope act a regulatory agency performs when it attempts to balance the demands for protection of human and environmental health against legitimate economic demands. Furthermore, EPA’s decision set a precedent for regulatory decision-making. As an advocate of the environment, Ruckelshaus and the agency chose to risk erring on the side of protecting human health at the expense of economic considerations–a course that would bring the agency under heavy criticism before the end of its first decade.


Your missing comments?

December 24, 2014

Spam comments on this blog abated for a couple of weeks, but they’re back with a vengeance.  Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub is collecting from 1,500 to 5,000 spam comments daily over the past week.

How I feel policing spam comments at Millard Fillmore's Bathtub.

How I feel when policing spam comments at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

Doesn’t affect you, EXCEPT if your comments somehow run afoul of the spam filters.  If you make a comment that does not appear almost immediately, please track down my e-mail, and let me know (I’m assuming you know how to add “@” and “.” where appropriate in an e-mail address).  There is so much spam that I may not otherwise find a short, non-spam comment in the mire.

Why would your comments run afoul of the spam filters?  Biggest reason is too many links.  I’ve set what I consider to be a reasonable limit on the number of hot links in a post before the spam filters ask me to look at a post.  Sometimes, in the heat of discussion, even I run afoul of that limit.

The second biggest reason is profanity.  This is a family-friendly, high-school-student-and-therefore-district-profanity-rules-friendly blog.  Mild profanity probably won’t catch your comments — but they might.  If you’re a sailor who wishes to wow us with your ability to write blue, your comments will be flagged.  Stick to making the argument, and avoid inflammatory, profane rants.

Third, if you’re writing from a nation where many of your ip addresses are involved in spam comments, or negative SEO attacks, the filtering software may think your comments are similarly ill-intended.

So if you leave a comment, and it doesn’t show, try to let me know.


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